According to Barrett and Fry (2008) Appreciative Inquiry is "The Unconditional Positive Question." It represents the unknown as opportunity to both discover and innovate.
Some Definitions (from Barrett & Fry, 2008):
Appreciative from Latin word Appretiāre
Appretiāre (meaning 1) = to set a price, to place a value on, to appraise
Appretiāre (meaning 2) = perceiving or seeing
Appretiāre (meaning 3) = to hold in high esteem or admire
Apprectiānce = to increase in value
Inquiry = the act of exploration (search and discovery) = the honest pursuit of learning
Appreciative Inquiry is constructive and builds capacity through a holistic approach of inquiry, learning, and change. An Appreciative Inquiry approach is:
- Strength-based in that it assumes all systems have strengths and from there takes a deliberate and systematic approach to identify those assets and best practices.
- Artful in that it often uses interviewing strategies and a story-telling approach to discovering the best from the past in order to advance it toward a larger vision
- Collaborative in that it involves multiple stakeholders who dialogue often and work together to identify and examine efforts
- Inclusive in that it follows a pathway of widening the circle of voices and growing opportunities for surfacing success stories (i.e., co-discovery, co-imagining, co-creation, and cooperative implementation toward positive change), and
- Generative in that the dialogue naturally leads to work that generates new vocabulary, concepts, images, and activities that allow people to develop deeper working relationships
Importantly, Appreciative Inquiry always starts with an honest pursuit to learn about something and is NOT only about getting people to buy-in to an already decided strategy. Instead it aims for groups to learn together through a strengths-based inquiry that will create a generative power to drive INNOVATION and CHANGE